Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Approach as an Explanation of Human Behaviour

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Psychosexual development, Phallic stage Pages: 5 (1999 words) Published: April 16, 2013
The purpose of this essay is to describe and evaluate the theories of Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic approach as an explanation of human behaviour, comprising of the id, superego and the ego, giving examples of the ego defence mechanisms. It will cover the origins of Freud and will discover the theory of personality. The psychosexual stages of development will also be explored and strengths and weaknesses will be evaluated throughout. This essay will explain Freud’s case study methods and will look at the treatments he suggested. Finally, this essay will look at an alternative explanation of human behaviour from the behaviourist perspective. (Inkson, 2012) Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia in 1856. At the age of four he moved to Austria’s capital, Vienna, where he spent the majority of his life. He attended medical school at the age of seventeen; upon receiving his medical degree in 1881 he decided to go into private practice in neurology, becoming the most influential and controversial thinkers of the 20th century. (Allpsych, 2011) Freud became the founder of psychoanalysis; its purpose is to treat mental disorders through therapy, identifying the cause of the problem which is then discussed and resolved. Freud had a bias sample of patients, as he mainly treated middle aged, Viennese women who were suffering from hysteria. Freud became very interested in the condition, convinced that unconscious mental causes were responsible. (Inkson, 2012) This is when Freud devised the iceberg analogy. The tip of the iceberg consists of the conscious - our current awareness, perceptions and sensations. The preconscious is located on the waterline, storing information and knowledge not currently on our mind. The greater mass below the waterline represents the unconscious which stores impulses and shameful experiences that affect our behaviour and thoughts. (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2009) The structure and development of personality is Freud’s major contribution to psychology. He believed the personality was made up of three main interacting systems; the id, ego and superego. (Allpsych, 2011) Freud believed the id is present from birth and operates according to the pleasure principle in which no distinction is made between a wish and its fulfilment. (Cardwell, 2010) The id is entirely unconscious, seeking immediate gratification, striving to obtain pleasure and avoid pain without consideration of external circumstances. (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2009) Opposing the demands of the id is the superego, which operates according to the morality principle and is seen as the purveyor of rewards and punishments. (Glassman and Hadad, 2009) Exerting a far greater influence over our behaviour than we realise, it consists of two parts, the ego-ideal, which tells us what we should do and the conscious, which tells us what we shouldn’t do. (Inkson, 2012) The mediator of the id and the superego is the ego, which operates according to the reality principle, arbitrating between the demands of the id and the superego. This is the conscious part of the mind, taking into account what is practical as well as what is urged. (Cardwell, 2010) The ego deals with the conflict between the id and the superego by operating one or more of the ego defence mechanisms. These are many defence mechanisms, such as, repression, projection, displacement and rationalisation, all of which are strategies for preventing or reducing anxiety and are a form of denial. (Allpsych, 2011) Freud believed that all humans possess two instinctive drives; Eros and Thanatos. The life force or sexual instinct is known as the Eros and is fuelled by psychic energy called libido. Thanatos is the death or aggressive instinct and will attack anything that stands in its way of receiving gratification of the libido. They are in constant conflict with each other and behaviour is driven by these. (Inkson, no date) Freud considered repression to be the most important means for changing...
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